What does a dental exam look like for children?
All children have specific people, toys, and activities they get excited about or are afraid of. Knowing this, we are completely flexible when it comes to completing dental exams. We aim trips to the dentist to not be scary. To accomplish this, we have literally completed exams on the floor, in our playroom, in a stroller, in the parking lot, and even in a car. We care to help keep your child comfortable in our office so they can master their dental check-up and understand the importance of healthy teeth for their lifetime.
Around age 3, all baby teeth have come in and closed the spaces between teeth. This makes three years old a great time to take the first radiographs (x-rays) of teeth! We evaluate the growth and development of the adult teeth and visualize spaces between teeth that we can not see or feel with our instruments.
Following the x-rays, there is an exam completed in our special dental chairs made specifically for children! They are a flat bench with a soft headrest pillow that can be flat or reclined, and there are even headphones for the tv on the ceiling! Our hygienists show your child every step of the cleaning process so they can be comfortable and understand what is happening. We call this Tell, Show, Do!
What are we checking for during a Children’s Dental Exam?
In our exam, we are looking at teeth and gums to make sure they are healthy and strong. We also check the jaws’ growth and development and help assess the potential long or short-term needs of orthodontics. In our practice, we can complete some early small orthodontics work. However, we work with some fantastic local orthodontists and can help prepare and guide you if that’s what your child needs.
What are dental intervention options for children?
Our first course of action is always education. We know that as parents who love their children, we’re all trying hard to do a good job. However, you can’t know everything! That’s where we would like to come alongside you to help establish good practices for now and the future through guidance and education.
If there is tooth decay or misformed teeth that require fixing, we can address these issues in-house.
Some options available include:
- Remineralization therapies such as fluoride varnish
- Silver diamine fluoride to slow or stop the decay
- Filling material
Fillings: We offer all-white fillings that bond to the tooth and restore the tooth area with the cavity.
Crowns: For larger decay areas, a crown covers the entire tooth and protects from future decay or breakdown. We have silver (surgical grade stainless steel) options or all white ceramic (zirconia) crowns.
When a tooth is broken so badly it can’t be fixed or has an infection that has traveled to the central part of the tooth(aka an abscess), we can recommend taking this tooth out.
We talk about “wiggling the tooth out” instead of “pulling” or “yanking.” We aim to avoid language that can be scary to kids. All children have “wiggled” out a baby tooth, though! Sometimes, we use space maintainers to serve as a replacement for a removed tooth. This small piece prevents the movement of the other teeth into the area where the tooth was removed.